As many of you know, for the last two years, I've done "A Song for the Season" about a month before CFB season begins. I try to capture a feeling for the off-season and what we can expect in the coming season. Two years ago, it was "This'll be the day that we try", as we struggled to overcome the letdowsn of 2008 and 2009. Last year, things were looking so far up, so I brought to you "Michigan, Guaranteed!"
This season it seems to me that no matter what any team does, we're not going to be getting out from under the pall of PSU reporting any time soon. It's almost farcical or erethral how much it permeates everything. Towards that end, I bring you, "The Game of College Football", to the tune of "Hotel California".
With an off-season gone by,
bad news on the tube.
Stories of misdeeds and mistrust,
homages paid to soon.
Far off in the future,
I saw a shimmering sign.
As my head grew heavy and my soul grew weak,
I thought it looked just fine.
I had reached the new season,
there it stood before me.
But the foul news still came up like before!
Will we ever be free?
Then came opening night,
a game with full fanfare.
Maybe we had passed it yet,
then the announcer declared…
Welcome to the new era of college football.
Such a lovely game
Such a crying shame
Plenty of news in the game of college football.
Can’t escape the bad
Don’t it make you mad!
The games now Gerry-tainted.
Can’t stop the Sandusky screams.
Full of lots of ugly crimes, a snake in the weeds.
People that don’t know the game now,
they come to make threats.
Some scream for bloody revenge, they haven’t stopped yet!
So I dialed up the Victors
“Please bring me good news.”
They said, “We could win the Championship and not escape these blues!”
And still those voices are calling from the TV.
Turn on Sports Center looking for sports news,
But instead all you see…
Welcome to the new era of college football.
Such a lovely game
Such a crying shame
Plenty of news in the game of college football.
Can’t escape the bad
Don’t it make you mad!
Seems not a single story
can get clear of PSU.
They said, “We’re finished for a decade,
aren’t you glad it’s not you?!”
And still the press gathers in the darkness,
not done with their feast.
Oh they hash it and rehash it still,
but the stories just keep getting released!
If we look to the future,
we can see clear air once more.
We hope our sport finds its way back
to the place we loved before.
“Oh no” says the TV, in yet another attack.
“You can clean up everything again,
but you can never go back!”
Here's a play-by-play of today's B1G AD Golf Challenge. Thanks.
July 24, 2012
Dave Brandon vs. Mark Hollis
•1. Both tee shots down the middle, both Brandon and Hollis 3-putted
from 15 feet
•2. Brandon great second shot from behind tree to green, Hollis great
up and down from behind green to win hole
•3. Both players bogeyed the third hole
•4. Brandon won the hole after getting up and down from the front of green
•5. Both players made par on the fifth, keeping the match all-square
•6. Brandon won the sixth as his 4-foot birdie putt was conceded
•7. Brandon was in the trees on the seventh, while Hollis made par
•8. Brandon hit his tee shot to within four feet to make birdie on the
hole and retaining 1-up lead
•9. Hollis hit an excellent bunker shot to 6 feet to win hole
•10. Hollis two-putted from 15 feet for par to win the hole
•11. Brandon made an eight-foot putt for bogey to halve hole
•12. Brandon hit his tee shot to 10 feet, Hollis conceded the par.
•13. Both players bogey the 13th hole.
•14. Match remained all square as both players bogeyed the hole.
•15. Brandon hit his 115-yard shot to 10 feet but missed the par putt
•16. Brandon hit his shot out of the bunker to 7 feet and made putt for par.
•17. Hollis hit his approach to 15 feet and had 2 putts for par to
square the match.
•18. Hollis drove it to right and hit his second shot into the water.
Brandon drove left in the trees, chipped out, hit his chip over the
green and missed a 3 foot putt as Hollis won the match.
Chris Whitten vs. Casey Lubahn
•1. Whitten wins the first hole as his putt was conceded by Lubahn
•2. Whitten got up and down from fringe to save par to keep a 1-up lead.
•3. Both players bogeyed the par-5
•4. Lubahn made a 4-foot birdie putt to square the match.
•5. Lubahn's chip went into tap-in range to take a 1-up lead.
•6. Lubahn went 2-up by making a 10-foot birdie putt
•7. Both players parred the seventh hole
•8. Whitten got up and down to save par
•9. Lubahn got up and down to save par
•10. Whitten sunk a 5-foot birdie putt to square the match
•11. Lubahn wins the hole with a 12-foot birdie putt
•12. Whitten's 3 foot birdie putt was conceded, giving him the win.
•13. Whitten won the hole as Lubahn's tee shot went out-of-bounds
•14. Whitten hit his tee shot to a foot for the birdie.
•15. Lubahn parred the hole while Whitten bogeyed, cutting Whitten's
lead to 1-up
•16. Whitten drove it in the fairway bunker and made 5, tying the match
•17. Both players made pars on the par-4
•18. Whitten's sand save on 18 sent the match to extra holes
• 19. Whitten missed a 2 foot putt on first playoff hole to extend match
• 20. Lubahn makes a 12 foot birdie putt to win match
Cheryl Stacy vs. Stacy Slobodnik-Stoll
•1. Both players bogey the first hole.
•2. Both missed green with Stacy 3-putting and Slobodnik-Stoll 2-putting
•3. Slobodnik hit her approach to within a foot, tapping in for birdie
•4. Stoll was in the bunker and made bogey with Stacy winning the hole
with a 2-putt par
•5. Stoll made a 2-putt for bogey for the win
•6. Stacy made birdie by holing out her shot from 100 yards.
•7. Stoll made a 4-foot putt for birdie.
•8. Stacy 2 putted and Stoll 3 putted to halve hole
•9. Both players bogeyed the hole
•10. Both players 2 putted for a par
•11. Both players 2 putted for par
•12. Stoll's 1 foot par putt conceded
•13. Stoll went 4-up after her par on 13
•14. Stacy's par beat Stoll's bogey on the par 3
•15. Stacy got up and down for par for the win.
•16. Both parred the hole, Stoll wins
Andy Matthews vs. Ryan Brehm
•1. Brehm birdied the first hole for an early 1-up lead.
•2. Brehm hit a 340-yard drive, chipped on from behind tree and saved par
•3. Matthews made a 20-foot par putt to halve
•4. Matthews scrambled from the rough for par
•5. Matthews chipped to 6 inches, Brehm missed 30-foot birdie putt by 2 inches
•6. Brehm drove pin high in the rough, up and down for birdie
•7. Matthews 10 foot putt for par
•8. Matthews makes an 8 foot birdie putt
•9. Matthews chipped to 2 feet to win hole
•10. Brehm made a 10-foot birdie putt
•11. Brehm made a 4 foot birdie putt
•12. Matthews made an 8 foot par putt to win
•13. Both players parred the hole.
•14. Matthews missed 4 foot par putt, giving Brehm a 2-up lead.
•15. Andy made a 15 foot putt for par
•16. Brehm missed 35 footer for birdie by two inches, wins match
Matt Thompson vs. Jack Newman
•1. Thompson takes an early 1-up lead with a birdie
•2. Thompson got in trouble off the tee and made bogey
•3. Both players parred the par-5 third
•4. Thompson made a 20-footer to halve the hole
•5. Thompson hit green and two putted, Newman missed green and did not
get up and down
•6. Newman nearly holed out from front bunker, won hole
•7. Both players parred the par-4
•8. Newman hit a 2 1/2 feet putt for birdie
•9. Thompson made a 2 foot par putt
•10. Both players parred the uphill par 4
•11. Thompson hit his 3rd shot to a foot, made par
•12. Great tee shot for Thompson, two putted from 25 feet
•13. Both players parred the 13th
•14. Both players parred the par-3 14th
•15. Thompson makes a 25 foot birdie putt for a 3-up lead
•16. Newman missed a 5 footer to extend match
Elaine Crosby vs. Natalie Brehm
•1. Brehm 2-putted off the fringe for birdie
•2. Brehm 2-putt from par after hitting the green in regulation
•3. Crosby conceded hole to Brehm for a 3-up lead
•4. Brehm up and down for par to win hole
•5. Crosby made a 16-foot putt for birdie
•6. Brehm 2 putted from the fringe for par
•7. Brehm 2 putted for par
•8. Brehm got up and down, Crosby three putted
•9. Crosby 2 putted for par
•10. Crosby 2 putt par for third straight win
•11. Brehm parred 11 to earn a win
•12. Brehm hooked ball off tee
•13. Both players halved the 13th with bogeys
•14. Both missed green and neither got up and down
•15. Both bogeyed, giving Brehm the win
Ashley Bauer vs. Sara Brown
•1. Brown 2-putt for par, Bauer 3 putt for par
•2. Ashley 10-foot putt for birdie for the win
•3. Brown eagled the third hole
•4. Brown 2 putt for par for the win
•5. Both get up and down for par
•6. Both bogeyed, failing to get up and down
•7. Bauer makes 6 foot putt to win hole
•8. Bauer almost holes it on the tee shot, wins hole with birdie
•9. Both players bogeyed the ninth
•10. Bauer 15 foot 2 putt
•11. Brown holes six foot birdie putt
•12. Sand save for Bauer
•13. Bauer made 5 foot par putt
•14. Bauer to 5 feet made birdie
•15. Ashley made 4 foot par to win the match
Frank Beckmann vs. Jim Miller
•1. Beckmann sand save to within inches to save par
•2. Miller conceded hole
•3. Beckmann won the hole with a double bogey
•4. Miller great approach shot only to lose hole
•5. Beckmann pars the fifth to win hole
•6. Beckmann great shot through trees to within 6 feet, going 6-up
•7. Miller hit nice 125-yard shot to win hole
•8. Beckmann nice shot out of bunker to win hole
•9. Both players made an 8.
•10. Both players hit green in regulation and par hole.
•11. Miller lipped out a short putt for five
•12. Both players make 5 on the par 3
•13. Frank had 300 yard drive to make par, close out match
Thad Polk vs. Trey Rogers
•1. Rogers pars the first hole to take a 1-up lead
•2. Polk 20 foot par putt to tie match
•3. Polk conceded hole
•4. Polk hit a 3-foot par putt to win
•5. Polk made a 2 foot putt to win hole
•6. Both had conceded putts with bogeys
•7. Both made short putts for par
•8. Both made par putts within 8 feet
•9. Polk 40 foot birdie putt to win hole
•10. Both made short par putts
•11. Rogers made short putt for 5 to win hole
•12. Both made sand saves for par
•13. Hole halved in pars, match abandoned
For those of you that weren't following along... Thursday's strip saw the Blockhams patriarch Glenn literally DIE when his youngest son delivered the news that he had fallen for the unthinkable.... a Buckeye girl.
He awoke beside pearly gates, among the clouds, and in the presence of a familiar and legendary man....
(Click the image to view full size)
The old man himself. Bo.
I really enjoyed putting this one together, as lengthy and wordy as it is. Obviously it was pretty easy to see where this strip was going, but I felt a real need to pay honor to the man who made the program what it is. And in light of, well, yesterday, especially here in PA, I thought about him in ways I never thought I would. But for better or worse, Bo never pretended to be perfect... he only inspired perfection.
On Thursday, Glenn returns to his earthly form and gets like the last ten pages of 'A Christmas Carol.'
THE BLOCKHAMS™ runs (typically) every Tuesday here at MGoBlog,
and at least every Thursday on its official home page. Also, don't forget to
check out Friday Roughs, a spontaneous low-end comic based on trending
Michigan events, available on Twitter and Facebook every Friday.
PSU is in deep trouble in football terms. Some here have tried to argue that maybe they'll weather this like USC did. That's very, very doubtful. They are going to have to compete with a 65-man roster from 2013-16, and the four-year bowl ban all but guarantees that good recruits won't come the next couple of years. The free-transfer policy will likely lead to what underclass talent they have now leaving.
If that weren't enough, PSU as an institution is just starting the nightmare. More trials are to come. Civil suits will follow. The Department of Education will investigate. The NCAA itself may investigate further to look into inidividual liability. In other words, this scandal - which was instigated by the football program - is going to remain on the front pages for years. That will further cripple recruiting. Altogether, PSU is not going to be allowed to have a "normal" roster (with four balanced classes) until 2020, and by that point they will likely have stunk on the football field for years, and have invested zero money in facilities (since they won't be able to afford it), so there is no guarantee recruits will suddenly line up to go there. I would not surprised to see Pitt emerge as the dominant program in Pennsylvania. (Incidentally, the two programs are going to renew their annual series, which will give Pitt the chance to drive that point home to recruits.)
Unfortunately for PSU, I expect them to be bad for awhile, maybe for good. So what does this all mean for the Big Ten? Consider the current divisions, which were set up in the name of competitive balance. The Big Ten formed these with the intent to split up the "Big four" (U-M, OSU, Nebraska, PSU) and give each one a protected game against another to keep things competitive. Here are the two divisions, with each team's protected rival in parentheses:
Legends Bo Leaders Woody
Michigan (OSU) OSU (U-M)
Nebraska (PSU) Wisconsin (Minn.)
MSU (Indiana) Illinois (NW)
Iowa (Purdue) PSU (Neb.)
Northwestern (Ill.) Purdue (Iowa)
Minnesota (Wisc.) Indiana (MSU)
If indeed PSU will be down, then not only will the Leaders division likely be weaker than the Legends, but there will be a competitive imbalance in the Legends division as well. Why? Because we'll be playing OSU every year while Nebraska, our presumed top competitor, will be playing a downtrodden PSU. Throw in MSU playing Indiana and we're at a significant disadvantage scheduling-wise. Likewise, OSU is at a disadvantage vis-à-vis Wisconsin, which gets a gimme win against Minnesota while OSU has to play us. The Big Ten set up these divisions precisely to avoid unbalanced schedules, and yet here we are. Get ready for Michigan to regularly have the hardest schedule of any conference contender. (Only Minnesota, which has to play us while we only play them, will have a tougher schedule year-in and year-out.)
The solution? An east-west geographical split:
This would balance things out nicely. Assuming Wisconsin is here to stay as a conference power, there'd be two power programs in each division. What's more, this would eliminate the need for cross-divisional protected games altogether, since all the rivalries would be contained within each division. Rivalries that the league is currently throwing by the wayside, like Wisconsin-Iowa and MSU-PSU (as much as we mock the Land Grant Trophy, MSU fans really liked that rivalry) get restored to annual meetings.
It will take a couple of years, at least, but at some point, if my pessimistic take on PSU turns out to be true, the league should really look into this.
Is there no Penn State fan who truly gets it?
I’ve been browsing fan websites for weeks, looking for a sign that Penn State fans understand why there is such enduring controversy surrounding their football program and school. I can’t say that I’ve seen evidence that even a single fan really gets it. The current president of the university seems to understand, but the most vocal PSU fans and alumni want to ride him out of town on a rail. The PSU fans seem to respond to the lunatic fringe of the blogosphere with answers to questions that no sane person is asking.
For example, PSU fans acknowledge that pedophilia is horrible and should never occur, but then act as though that somehow shows that they “get it.”
PSU fans list all the positive attributes of Penn State, its football players, its graduates, etc., etc. Yes, we sane “outsiders” all understand that there is more good than bad in Penn State and there is plenty to be proud of. Again, that’s never been in question, except to the lunatic fringe.
It is the next point, though, that begins to get at the crux of the problem. PSU fans point out the half truth that this sort of thing happens everywhere. Yes, child sex abuse is far more prevalent than most people realize, and most of us probably do know someone who has been abused and very well may know an abuser without realizing it. These truths, though, ignore the difference, the reason Penn State is singled out and stands alone among US universities (as far as we know): at no other institution were there repeated allegations of child sex abuse that rose to the very top of the university where the response was to cover up, protect the pedophile, thereby allowing him to continue abusing children for over a decade.
Now, many PSU fans do acknowledge this last point, but almost none without spinning it in such a way to convince themselves it was just an isolated incident with just a few bad apples (I don’t know how many times I’ve heard it was just one monster and two, perhaps three others) and they are now out of the university, so the problem has been resolved. That third individual, which many PSU fans still refuse to acknowledge, played a role in this is a if not the central figure in the cover up. Joe Paterno, for all the teaching and preaching (and leading by example) he did about honor, integrity, doing things “the right way,” failed miserably on the biggest test to ever come his way. There is no getting around this. But these are the points I’m waiting for a Penn State fan to acknowledge, and it is some semblance of refusal to acknowledge these or similar points that leads to many saying Penn State fans still don’t get it:
1) There was a cult of personality surrounding Joe Paterno. This is not unique to PSU, so I’m not quite sure why there is such resistance to acknowledging this point. The only difference might be that Joe Pa’s longevity and success led to a level of reverence perhaps never achieved at another university.
2) Joe Paterno was the most powerful individual at Penn State for decades.
3) While he might not be culpable legally under Pennsylvania law, morally and ethically Paterno failed the child abuse victims and the community by not doing more to stop Jerry Sandusky.
4) When the most powerful person on campus, the athletic director, and the president of the university all cover up and enable a child rapist to continue his abuse for decades, and others in far lower positions in the university are afraid to come forward with complaints there is a question that must be asked and answered: who or what enabled the enablers?
In the wake of the NCAA’s sanctions against Penn State, many fans are wondering what this means for the future of Nittany Lion football. Many of the forecasts are quite dire: that Penn State is now (effectively) an FCS team; that they’ll go 0-12 for four years; that no one will want to play or coach there; that the program will take a decade or more to recover; or perhaps that it will never recover its former glory.
These predictions are grossly exaggerated, and they ignore many of the basic realities of college football.
Like most of the sport's premier teams, Penn State has huge structural advantages that NCAA sanctions can't erase. Their stadium seats 106,572, more than any in the U.S. except the Big House. The rest of their facilities are top-notch, as you'd expect at such a program.
Penn State fans are loyal, just as Michigan's are. Even in the darkest times, they will continue to fill their stadium; boosters will continue to donate money. Although I pray that such a scandal would never occur at Michigan, if it did I would remain blue, and so, I suspect, would most Michigan fans. Those at Penn State are no less dedicated to their school.
Penn State benefited historically from a geographical accident. In relation to its population, the New England and middle Atlantic states are very densely populated, but they have very few football schools. New York is the third-most most populous state in the country, and it has just one school in a major football conference: Syracuse. New Jersey, the 11th-most populous state, has just one: Rutgers, and they're terrible at football.
The upshot is that there are millions of kids in the Northeastern U.S. for whom Penn State was always the best football school within driving distance, with very little real competition. For kids that cared about playing close to home, which is a lot of them, a Penn State offer always meant that they'd made it. These loyalties, built up over generations, don't just disappear because of Jerry Sandusky.
The NCAA hammered Penn State with two sanctions that affect the ability to field a competitive team: a reduction of 20 scholarships per year for four years; and a post-season ban for the same period. These are substantial penalties, no question about it — the worst the NCAA has ever imposed, aside from the death penalty. But they are not as serious as they first appear.
Penn State can still give out 65 scholarships a year, enough to give a free ride to all of the starters and many of the key backups on the football team. It's true that they can't go bowling for four years, but consider the following:
Many of the schools Penn State is now being compared to (Indiana, the MAC, the FCS), never or hardly ever go to the post-season. But Penn State's facilities are far superior to those schools, and it offers a better education than most of them. Penn State will still play a Big Ten schedule, which means it will see better opponents, and 100 percent of its games will be televised. Many athletes, though admittedly not the elite ones, will consider those advantages sufficiently compelling.
Penn State will still get a few recruits with competing Big Ten offers. How much better is it, really, to go to a school like Purdue, where you go to bowls about half the time (and usually a "meh" bowl at that)? Even kids with top-tier offers will see opportunity in the Penn State depth chart. Many will prefer the chance to be a near-certain starter at Penn State, than going to a bowl-eligible school but spending most of their career as a backup. Given the choice of starting 12 games at Penn State or the potential of sitting on the bench for 13 at (say) Illinois , some will surely choose Penn State.
Penn State has historically scheduled weak OOC opponents (notwithstanding their home & home with Alabama the last two years). In 2014, they'll face the gantlet of Temple, Akron, Rutgers, and UMass. Even with a 20-scholarship handicap, they'll probably be favored in those games. Some of their Big Ten match-ups will be favorable (e.g., Indiana and Minnesota), and some of the others could be a push (e.g., Purdue, Illinois).
Although the sanctions last four years, after the first two they can recruit kids who'll be able to play in bowls by the time they're juniors, the point in their careers when they would have hoped to be starters under the old regime. Instead, by the time the sanctions expire, they'll be juniors with two years of solid playing time behind them, instead of garbage time somewhere else. By the time the sanctions expire, Penn State's starters will have lower recruiting rankings than your typical Penn State squad, but more experience, because most of them will have started as freshmen and sophomores.
Although the next couple of years could be dire, you could easily imagine Penn State fielding a squad of mostly 3* starters in years three and four of the sanctions, with a handful of 4*'s who choose Penn State due to academics, geography, legacy ties, or because they like their chances on such a thin depth chart. Such a team would be easily capable of getting to 5-7 wins with Penn State's fairly soft schedule.
If Bill O'Brien can get Penn State up to around .500 while playing under such severe sanctions, which is very clearly possible, imagine what he can do the instant the sanctions are lifted. By that point, Jerry Sandusky will be five years in the rear view mirror, which is an eternity from the viewpoint of a kid who's deciding where to play football in college. All of Penn State's structural advantages (stadium, facilities, academics, fans, geography) will still be in place.
Of course, Bill O'Brien's ability to lead any program, much less a program with such a cloud hanging over it, are unknown. He has never been a head coach on any level, and he was an offensive coordinator in the NFL for only a short time before Penn State hired him. My point here is not to predict what will happen, but to show how Penn State could quite easily get out from under what appear to be practically nuclear sanctions.
Although Penn State's recovery might not proceed exactly as I've described, the premier programs have historically made their way back to prominence, no matter how severe the sanctions. Penn State's sanctions are unprecedented, but their overwhelming structural advantages will probably work in their favor, once they are again able to recruit a full class.